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LA City Council President Nury Martinez faces calls to resign after racist remarks emerge in leaked audio

Los Angeles City Council President Nury Martinez is facing calls to step down after leaked audio revealed her making openly racist remarks, including those about a White colleague’s young Black son. 

The Los Angeles Times first reported about the audio recording on Sunday of a conversation that happened back in October 2021 between Martinez, Councilmembers Gil Cedillo and Kevin de León and L.A. County Federation of Labor President Ron Herrera while discussing the redrawing of districts. 

According to the Times, Martinez criticized another colleague, Councilmember Mike Bonin, who is White, over the parenting of his Black son, who she said he treated like an “accessory.” 

Martinez remarked on the toddler’s behavior during a Martin Luther King Day parade, saying that the float would have tipped over if she and the other women present didn’t step in to “parent this kid.”

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Councilman Kevin de León, left, and Los Angeles City Council President Nury Martinez confer at city council meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2022. 

Councilman Kevin de León, left, and Los Angeles City Council President Nury Martinez confer at city council meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2022. 
(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

“They’re raising him like a little White kid,” Martinez said, according to the recording leaked on Reddit. “I was like, ‘This kid needs a beatdown. Let me take him around the corner and then I’ll bring him back.”‘

Martinez also called Bonin’s son “ese changuito,” Spanish for “that little monkey.”

De León chimed in, comparing Bonin’s handling of the toddler to “when Nury brings her little yard bag or the Louis Vuitton bag.” “Su negrito, like on the side,” Martinez added. 

Condemning the comments made by his Latino colleagues, Bonin issued a family statement Sunday. 

“We are appalled, angry and absolutely disgusted that Nury Martinez attack our son with horrific racist slurs, and talked about her desire to psychically harm him,” Bonin and his partner, Sean Arian, wrote. “It’s vile abhorrent and utterly disgraceful. The City Councils needs to remove her as Council President immediately, and she needs to resign from office.”

“As parents of a Black child, we condemn the entirety of the recorded conversation, which displayed a repeated and vulgar anti-Black sentiment, and a coordinated effort to weaken Black political representation in Los Angeles. The conversation revealed several layers of contempt for the people of Los Angeles, and a cynical, ugly desire to divide the City rather than serve it,” the statement added. 

It’s not clear who made or leaked the recording. 

But seemingly unaware she was being recorded at the time, Martinez also recalled a conversation she had with businessman Danny Bakewell about possibly transferring Los Angeles International Airport out of Bonin’s council district and into that of Councilmember Marqueece Harris- Dawson. The council president said she told Bakewell, “Go get the airport from his little brother — that little b**** Bonin.”

Los Angeles City Council member Mike Bonin opposes the motion for the appointment of Heather Hutt as an interim council member for the 10th District. The motion failed to receive the 10 votes required for a public hearing at City Hall on Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2022. 

Los Angeles City Council member Mike Bonin opposes the motion for the appointment of Heather Hutt as an interim council member for the 10th District. The motion failed to receive the 10 votes required for a public hearing at City Hall on Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2022. 
(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

“Mike Bonin won’t f—ing ever say peep about Latinos. He’ll never say a f—ing word about us,” De León  added. 

Martinez also derided Los Angeles County District George Gascón after the group pondered whether Gascón would endorse Cedillo in his re-election campaign against Eunessis Hernandez.

“F— that guy … He’s with the Blacks,” Martinez is heard saying, according to FOX 11 Los Angeles. 

The conversation also steered toward Councilmember Mark Ridley-Thomas’ indictment on federal corruption charges, as Martinez said Controller Ron Galperin would decide whether Ridley-Thomas still gets paid during his suspension. “You need to go talk to that White guy,” Martinez said. “It’s not us. It’s the White members on this council that will motherf— you in a heartbeat.”

Left to right-Los Angeles City Council President Nury Martinez shakes hands with Matt Hewumhofer, an attorney representing L.A. Alliance as Los Angeles City Councilman Kevin de Léon talks with Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti at conclusion of a press conference where it was announced that a $236 million settlement reached to bring services to people experiencing homelessness. 

Left to right-Los Angeles City Council President Nury Martinez shakes hands with Matt Hewumhofer, an attorney representing L.A. Alliance as Los Angeles City Councilman Kevin de Léon talks with Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti at conclusion of a press conference where it was announced that a $236 million settlement reached to bring services to people experiencing homelessness. 
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

After the Times published its story about the recording, Martinez and de León both issued apologies. 

“In a moment of intense frustration and anger, I let the situation get the best of me and I hold myself accountable for these comments. For that I am sorry. The context of this conversation was concern over the redistricting process and concern about the potential negative impact it might have on communities of color. My work speaks for itself. I’ve worked hard to lead this city through its most difficult time,” Martinez said in a statement obtained by FOX 11 Los Angeles. 

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“There were comments made in the context of this meeting that are wholly inappropriate; and I regret appearing to condone and even contribute to certain insensitive comments made about a colleague and his family in private,” de León said. “I’ve reached out to that colleague personally. On that day, I fell short of the expectations we set for our leaders — and I will hold myself to a higher standard.”

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